Thermostats have not seen much innovation in decades, but thanks to ex-Apple leader Tony Fadell, that is all about to change. Fadell, who helped design the iPod and ran the iPod and iPhone divisions for years has turned his attention to the thermostat. There are nearly a quarter billion thermostats in the United States alone with 10 million more bought each year and the majority of them go untouched. Programmable thermostats have been so ineffective that the federal government dropped the entire programmable thermostat category from its Energy Star program two years ago.
Enter Fadell and The Nest Learning Thermostat. There are four radical changes introduced with this product.
The Nest is round, with a glass screen and a mirror finish on the barrel to reflect your wall. It glows orange when heating and blue when cooling, turns on when you approach it and off when nobody’s around.
The Nest is equipped with WiFi, allowing consumers to download software updates and program it on a website. Further, you can use free iPhone and Android apps to check and adjust the temperature level from anywhere. Consumers can warm up the house before they get home in the winter or cool it down on a hot summer day.
When The Nest is first installed, consumers adjust the temperature manually as they normally would. The thermostat will then display the new setting and how long it will take to reach that setting. This is intended to show the consumer that setting the thermostat higher or lower than what is desired will not speed up the process. After a week or so, The Nest begins learning your particular living patterns and will begin to adjust the settings automatically.
While The Nest is priced high at $250, it claims to have a payback period of less than two years. For starters, having a correctly programmed thermostat will undoubtedly save energy. The proximity sensors, both near and far, will sense if anybody is in the home and if not, let the temperature rise or drop to a outer limit you’ve defined. The key to this feature is to have the thermostat open to the room and not behind a door or in a closet. Turning down the temperature just a single degree can save up to 5% in energy and to add motivation, a green leaf will grow brighter as you turn the ring beyond your standard comfort zone.